What is a coronavirus?

The coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic is just one of many viruses in the coronavirus family. Coronaviruses (CoV) have protein spikes giving the appearance of a crown. “Corona”  in Latin means crown.


This family of virus can cause disease in both animals and humans, affecting breathing as well as the gastrointestinal system. In humans, several coronaviruses are associated with respiratory disease and can range in severity from the common cold to  illness such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV),  identified in China in 2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 (1). 


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS – CoV-2) is the official scientific name for the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes is COVID-19 (5).


  1. 26/03/20

  2. 30/03/20


  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lesson 1: Introduction to epidemiology. Section 11: Epidemic disease occurrence. Level of disease. Updated May 18, 2012 26/03/20

  5. 29/03/20

  6. Raina K. Plowright et al. Pathways to zoonotic spillover Nat Rev Microbiol. 2017; 15(8): 502–510.  Published online 2017 May 30. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017. 

  7. Andersen, K.G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W.I. et al. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nat Med (2020). 17 March 2020.

  8. 29/03/20

  9. AVA email communication 28/03.20 : COVID-19: Report of human transmission to pet cat in Belgium.

  10. AVA Client information sheet COVID-19 and companion animals 18/03/20

  11. 29/03/20

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